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DRM On Your Browser

Posted on 20th September 2017

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There is something very worrying going on. DRM (Digital Rights Management) is being rolled out, apparently to all the main web-browsers. This is an attempt to ensure that web-visitors do not steal and re-use people's IPR (Intellectual Property Rights - copyrighted, patented and trademarked material). It is being done by the W3C, the body that manages web-related standards, as a result of lobbying and other influences by large corporate members.

These two articles will give you an idea about what is going on:

  • This is an open letter from Cory Doctorow, of the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), to the W3C Director, CEO, team and membership, summarising the history of the battle about the EME standard (created to enforce DRM on all browsers), ad reiterating their objection. The EFF has now resigned from the W3C in disgust.
  • This is an article from Andreas Gal of Mozilla (the creators of Firefox) explaining how the EME standard is totally at odds with Mozilla's principles about a free and open Internet, why they decided to compromise those principles, and what they have done in their EME implementation to protect users.

The article from Mozilla is fairly long, and you may not want to read it all, but it does describe what they have done to prevent the EME code, which is from Adobe, from leaking your identity information to organisations whose web-sites you visit. One of many things that I find totally irresponsible about the W3C's actions is this choice of Adobe to provide the EME code; as Andreas Gal points out, Adobe have a dreadful reputation in the area of computer security, and have many times delivered code (mostly as part of Flash) which opened up users to hacking attacks; they are also nearly as notorious as Microsoft for collecting (usually secretly) about users, and of leaking that information.

It is probably too late for objections to do any good; you may already have EME on your computer. If not, then you might consider turning off automatic updates, but that will probably mean that you can't access DRM material in future. You should certainly consider switching to Firefox, so that at least your identity remains secret (and use a proxy server when accessing sites that are DRM protected).

Maybe the EFF's promise of continuing lawsuits on the matter will eventually yield results.